The visitor's guide to Dewsbury Town Hall originally written by Stuart Hartley of the Dewsbury Matters community group back in 1999 (now the Dewsbury History Group) has been rescued from the archives and is now available for download from the Local History page.
Dewsbury Town Hall was completed in 1889 and was an expression of the explosive growth of the wool textile industry in the second half of the 19th century of which Dewsbury was the commercial and distribution centre for the Heavy Woollen District.
Dewsbury was designated a Borough Council in 1862 and by 1885 it was clear that a new building to accommodate the growing civic importance of the borough was needed. Local merchants also expressed a need for a business 'Exchange' with all modern conveniences and the current Town Hall, complete with the desired Exchange Hall, was completed in 1889 and remains much as it was to this day.
At the time, the facilities included not only the municipal offices but also a police station and courthouse. The cells of the police station can still be experienced by visiting the Community Hub at the rear of the building where the white glazed tiles and solid brickwork can still be seen though camouflaged behind the colourful paraphernalia of community activities.
The guide covers much of how the substantial new building was accommodated within the centre of the town and goes into detail of how various features of the building came about including the impressive stained glass windows and the clock which looks out over the centre of Dewsbury.
There appears to have been a degree of competition among the richer merchants and civic bodies to see who could provide the most impressive donation to mark their presence in the town.
The Visitors Guide provides a fascinating insight into the origins of one of the iconic landmark buildings of Dewsbury. Visit the Local History page to download the full version.